List: DGA Best Directed Movie of Each Year

In celebration of the Directors Guild of America’s 80th anniversary, I am posting the winner of their annual award honoring the best directed film of the year. Along with each winning film, I will provide my grade for that film’s direction along with my choice for the best directed film of the year if different from the DGA’s.

The DGA Awards began in 1948, but because this is a celebration of their 80th anniversary, I will begin with my picks in 1936 to cover the full 80 years, making up for the first 13 years of the organization prior to the inception of their award.


1936: Charles Chaplin, Modern Times

1937: Victor Fleming, Captains Courageous

1938: Jean Renoir, Grand Illusion

1939: Victor Fleming, The Wizard of Oz

1940: Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca

1941: Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

1942: Michael Curtiz, Casablanca

1943: Alfred Hitchcock, Shadow of a Doubt

1944: Alfred Hitchcock, Lifeboat

1945: Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend

1946: William Wyler, The Best Years of Our Lives

1947: William Powell & Emeric Pressburger, Black Narcissus

The beginning of the DGA Awards

1948: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, A Letter to Three Wives (A); My choice: John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1949: Robert Rossen, All the King’s Men (A+); My choice: Stanley Donen,  On the Town

1950: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All about Eve (A+); My choice: Billy Wilder, Sunset Blvd.

1951: George Stevens, A Place in the Sun (A+); My choice: Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon

1952: John Ford, The Quiet Man (A); My choice: Stanley Donen, Singin’ in the Rain

1953: Fred Zinnemann, From Here to Eternity (D); My choice: Billy Wilder, Stalag 17 


1954: Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront (A+); I agree.

1955: Delbert Mann, Marty (A-); My choice: Nicholas Ray, Rebel without a Cause

1956: George Stevens, Giant (F); My choice: Stanley Kubrick, The Killing

1957: David Lean, The Bridge on the Rive Kwai (C+); My choice: Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men

1958: Vincente Minnelli, Gigi (B-); My choice: Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo


1959: William Wyler, Ben-Hur (A+); I agree

1960: Billy Wilder, The Apartment (A+); My choice: Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho

1961: Robert Wise, West Side Story (F); My choice: Stanley Kramer, Judgment at Nuremberg


1962: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia (A+); I agree

1963: Tony Richardson, Tom Jones (C+); My choice: Federico Fellini, 8½ 

1964: George Cukor, My Fair Lady (B); My choice: Robert Stevenson, Mary Poppins

1965: Robert Wise, The Sound of Music (B-); My choice: Jacque Demy, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

1966: Fred Zinnemann, A Man for All Seasons (C-); My choice: Mike Nichols, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967: Mike Nichols, The Graduate (A+); My choice: Sergio Leone, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

1968: Anthony Harvey, The Lion in Winter (Unseen); My choice: Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey

1969: John Schlessinger, Midnight Cowboy (A); My choice: Dennis Hopper, Easy Rider


1970: Franklin J. Schaffner, Patton (A+); I agree

1971: William Friedkin, The French Connection (B+); My choice: Franklin J. Schaffner, Nicholas and Alexandra


1972: Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather (A+); I agree

"The Sting" Robert Redford, Paul Newman 1973 Universal **I.V.

1973: George Roy Hill, The Sting (A+); I agree


1974: Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part II (A+); I agree

1975: Milos Forman, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (A-); My choice: Sidney Lumet, Dog Day Afternoon

1976: John G. Avildsen, Rocky (A-); My choice: Sidney Lumet, Network

1977: Woody Allen, Annie Hall (A+); My choice: George Lucas, Star Wars

1978: Michael Cimino, The Deer Hunter (C+); My choice: Hal Ashby, Coming Home

1979: Robert Benton, Kramer vs. Kramer (A); My choice: Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now

1980: Robert Redford, Ordinary People (A+); I agree

1981: Warren Beatty, Reds (A+); My choice: Mark Rydell, On Golden Pond

1982: Richard Attenborough, Gandhi (A-); My choice: Steven Spielberg, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

1983: James L. Brooks, Terms of Endearment (C-); My choice: Woody Allen, Zelig


1984: Milos Forman, Amadeus (A+); I agree


1985: Steven Spielberg, The Color Purple (A+); I agree

1986: Oliver Stone, Platoon (C); My choice: Woody Allen, Hannah and Her Sisters

1987: Bernardo Bertolucci, The Last Emperor (A-); My choice: Barry Levinson, Good Morning, Vietnam

1988: Barry Levinson, Rain Man (A+); My choice: Robert Zemeckis, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

1989: Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July (B-); My choice: Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing

1990: Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves (D); My choice: Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part III

1991: Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs (A-); My choice: Joel Coen, Barton Fink

1992: Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven (A+); I agree

1993: Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List (A+); I agree

1994: Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump (A+); I agree

1995: Mel Gibson, Braveheart (C-); My choice: Chris Noonan, Babe

1996: Anthony Minghella, The English Patient (C+); My choice: Mike Leigh, Secrets and Lies

1997: James Cameron, Titanic (C); My choice: Peter Cattaneo, The Full Monty

1998: Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan (C+); My choice: Sam Raimi, A Simple Plan


1999: Sam Mendes, American Beauty (A+); I agree


2000: Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (A+); I agree

2001: Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind (B); My choice: Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge

2002: Rob Marshall, Chicago (A-); My choice: Spike Jonze, Adaptation

2003: Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (C-); My choice: Sophia Coppola, Lost in Translation

2004: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby (B+); My choice: Robert Zemeckis, The Polar Express

2005: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain (Unseen); My choice: Bennett Miller, Capote


2006: Martin Scorsese, The Departed (A+); I agree

2007: Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men (C+); My choice: Julie Taymor, Across the Universe


2008: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire (A+); I agree

2009: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (B-); My choice: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

2010: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech (A-); My choice: David Fincher, The Social Network


2011: Michel Hazanavicus, The Artist (A+); I agree

2012: Ben Affleck, Argo (A+); My choice: Tom Hooper, Les Misérables


2013: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity (A+); I agree

2014: Alejandro G. Iñáritu, Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (A); My choice: Damien Chazelle, Whiplash

2015: Alejandro G. Iñáritu, The Revenant (C+); My choice: Spike Lee, Chi-Raq



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